Vantage Drilling Signs 2-Year Extension For Tungsten Explorer - What Happened To Ocean Rig?

| About: Ocean Rig (ORIG)
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The company has signed a 2-year extension for the Tungsten Explorer until October 2018. It is a "blend & extend" contract with Total. However, there are no details yet.

This is a surprising news indeed, especially after learning last week that Total terminated for convenience the OR Apollo working in Congo until Q2 2018?

Unfortunately, I do not think VTGDF's shareholders will get much joy from this contract extension. What happened to ORIG?

Picture: Tungsten Explorer

This article is a follow-up to my preceding article on Vantage Drilling (OTCPK:VTGDF), published on January 14, 2016.

Today, February 19, 2016, Vantage Drilling announced the following:

Vantage Drilling International signed an agreement for a two-year extension of the Tungsten Explorer contract; the ultra-deepwater drillship will now work until October 2018, the company said Feb. 19.

Quick look of the fleet status:

# Name Year Delivered Type Contract End

Day Rate


1. Jack-Ups
1 Emerald Driller 12/2008




(option 8 wells)



2 Sapphire Driller 7/2009



Ready Stacked


3 Aquamarine Driller 9/2009



Ready stacked Malaysia
4 Topaz Driller 12/2009






Letter of award subject to condition

2. Ultra-Deepwater
1 Platinum Explorer 11/2010 DSME-UDW

En route




2 Titanium Explorer 3/2012 DSME-UDW







3 Tungsten Explorer 7/2013 DSME-UDW


641 To be indicated



4 Cobalt Explorer Contract Canceled DSME-UDW Dual Derrick 7th generation - -


Vantage Drilling released a very surprising news, showing that a bankrupt company can still take a part of the offshore drilling business even if the shareholders have been totally wiped out.

I was very surprised to learn that the UDW Tungsten Explorer was awarded a 2-year extension with Total (NYSE:TOT) in Congo. I commented on February 16, 2016, about Total which terminated for convenience the OR Apollo (7G) in Congo from Ocean Rig UDW (NASDAQ:ORIG).

The company announced that Total terminated for convenience the Ocean Rig Apollo:

TOTAL E&P Congo on February 11, 2016 has given notification to terminate for convenience the long-term contract of the 7th generation ultra-deepwater drillship Ocean Rig Apollo. As per the contract Ocean Rig is entitled to a termination fee that varies from 50% to 95% of the operating daily rate that will be payable over the balance of the contract. The Ocean Rig Apollo will demobilize from Congo in due course and is available for alternative employment. In connection with the termination of the drilling contract of the Ocean Rig Apollo, the Company has notified the agent under the respective loan agreement and is currently in discussions with its lenders about the consequences of such termination.


Vantage Drilling was willing to accept a deal that Ocean Rig UDW probably could not accept, thereby keeping its last drillship working until October 2018.

All we know is that the Tungsten Explorer has been extended for 2 years until Q3 2018; however, we do not know the terms and day rate, which will be extremely low. This is a "blend & extend" that will probably start retroactively from January 2016 (my opinion) at a day rate that I am afraid will be very low and in the range of $280k-$320k/d, in my opinion.

Assuming the deal may start from January 2016, the loss in backlog will be about 11 months at a rate difference of $641k/d-~$300k/d, or basically about $113 million. On the other hand, Vantage Drilling will get an additional backlog of about $216 million, assuming $300k/d, which is a gain of $103 million in contract backlog, with a day rate below the breakeven level.

It is hard to speculate, of course, especially when it comes to Ocean Rig UDW and M. George Economo, CEO, but Vantage Drilling may have accepted something that ORIG could not or did not agree to, and it cost ORIG its contract.

Another assumption would be that the relationship between ORIG and Total has not been very good for quite a while. Total earlier terminated another ORIG UDW in 2014, and both companies are still disputing the case for compensation.

As always, the devil is in the details and we do not know much of the details right now. I believe ORIG's shareholders are wondering what happened?

Disclosure: I am/we are long ORIG.

I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.

Additional disclosure: I have a small long position and trade actively the PPS.

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